Monday, June 29, 2009

My first Pride Parade!

I got back this afternoon from a fun experience marching in my first Gay Pride Parade in New York - or anywhere else for that matter. I met up with the Polyamorous NYC group on 54th Street at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, and we milled around and watched the first part of the parade until about 2 p.m.

The National Organization for Women group

Polina was working that morning, and we were exchanging texts and phone call updates because it was looking like she wasn't going to make it in time to join us. Unlike past parades, the organizers were discouraging people from joining the parade along the route, so I was getting worried when we started marching and she still hadn't made it. Luckily we'd only gotten a block south on 5th Avenue before she caught up to us.

Some of my other friends who marched were Buck, Simon, Barbara and her partner Joe, and Linda and her partner, who were performing burlesque last time I saw them ("Shanghai Mermaid" - May 31, 2009). Barbara and Linda both met Polina for the first time, although they've heard plenty about her from me at past support group meetings. Our group of marchers came directly after the Gay Peruvians of the Americas float, whose members sported some extravagant costumes like this one made from ostrich plumage:

Gay Peruvian ostrich

But we did have our big banner to walk behind, and Polina and I took turns holding up the center portion - Linda and Barbara can be seen behind her wearing hats, Linda in red:

Polina behind the PolyNYC banner

The loud and colorful group directly behind us was Straight Women In Support of Homos (SWISH):


Between the Gay Peruvians and SWISH, our group was a lot smaller and more low-key than those immediately around us, but we tried to make up the difference using a bullhorn to broadcast poly cheers - everybody took a turn using it, including me:

Getting the poly message out

One of our members, Trace Wax, had a nice idea for a shirt:

Trace and his shirt

So we made our way down 5th Avenue, and found Katie and her girlfriend Lillian at 42nd Street in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library after connecting with them by phone. They were too far back from the parade barricades, so all we could do was wave to them. However, just before 14th Street, I was astonished that I was able to pick out my friend Angel waving from the mass of revelers, and I went over to give her a hug and introduce her to Polina. Then we had to run to catch back up to our group.

After the parade we went to Patrick's house (he's a PolyNYC Board member) for an after-parade party. Around 10 p.m. Polina and I left to drop by the SpiceNYC party at the Taj Lounge to say hi again to Angel, who was peddling her assortment of toys and intimate accessories at the event. We got back to Polina's house on Staten Island around 2 a.m.

The overwhelming feeling that I got from marching in this parade was one of amazement and hopefulness. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that sparked the modern gay rights movement. It amazes me that in my own lifetime, we as a society have come from complete ignorance and hatred of the queer community to the outpouring of support that I saw amongst the thousands of parade watchers yesterday. It gives me such hope that we as a society can change, and that we as people can learn to accept and value the many kinds of human diversity so that we can all make the world a better, more peaceful place in which to live.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quiet outside, noisy inside

Lots of relationship stuff going on in my head, but not much of it makes good copy, at least in this space. Too much thinking about the future is not good for me. It's not that the present sucks, but it has been quiet.

Since coming home from Penny's house Sunday night, I've spent five straight days at home, mostly alone except for Tara coming over Monday and today, and frequent phone updates from Penny, who has been having an inversely busy week to my languid one. But it's the first full week I've spent at home in the last two months, so that's different. Part of the blame falls on the weather, and part on the fact that I'm planning on marching in Sunday's Pride parade in New York, so I know there's activity to come. At least I've been sending out lots of resumes, landing a job interview next Tuesday in Cranford, NJ. Plus, I'm looking forward to a nice Saturday night of dinner, cards and movie at my place with my family.

I had one of my wacky dreams last night where Tara was involved in some kind of espionage activity, and got shot in the leg in New Orleans. I was visiting her at the hospital there, and my friend Reid (the co-inventor of Cuddle Party) was in the next bed. We watched as he was receiving theraputic flogging from his Cuddle Party partner Marcia and my friend Diana ("Diana Adams on TV" - March 4, 2009) using a stick with a rubber ball attached to the end with a short rope. I asked Tara if she wanted me to try that on her, and she strenuously refused.

I left the hospital intending to take a bicycle tour of Bourbon Street, even though it was raining quite heavily. As I got back to my car to get my bike, a resident of a nearby apartment hailed me and asked me to help him fix his clothes washer, which was making a lot of noise. I told him the load was probably unbalanced, but it that wasn't it, he should ask his superintendent to fix it. Then I got on my bike and went on my way in the rain.

Since I was dreaming of New Orleans, this evening I got a box of Popeye's spicy fried chicken for dinner, one of the few things I enjoyed eating in Houston that I can get here in New Jersey. What I really miss are 24-hour Taco Cabanas; the only fast food open 24 hours here is McDonalds, which I will only eat in an emergency.

Anyway, not much else to say. Next week will probably be more eventful, and I'll try to take some pictures Sunday - it's my first time marching in any kind of parade.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Midsummer update

First of all, I want to wish everyone a blessed Midsummer, which was on Sunday when I was in Staten Island. Pagans celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, when the sun is at its highest point before it begins to slide into the dark half of the year.

It's been a fairly eventful few days, but I'll be brief about it because a lot of it is rather personal. Thursday night I drove into the city and picked up Polina from work to meet Lori at the Baruch Performing Arts Center to see Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. We arrived a bit late, and the play was only an hour long, but it was an amusing and surprisingly conventional drama, despite the flamboyant title.

Friday I got a call from my friends Mandy and Anna from Ohio and they were in town looking for work. Things have been very difficult for them in the past few years, and they had been living out of their car for the past three or four days as they traveled here from Columbus. I went to meet them at a nearby gas station, filled up their tank and brought them back to my apartment and got them cleaned up. We talked about their plans to live and find work in New York, and I called my poly friends Barbara and Sylwia (who both work for social services organizations) for advice. We called some shelters, but the fact they are a lesbian couple and they had a pet rabbit with them made it impossible to them to find a place where they could be together. In the end, I bought them a car charger for their depowered cell phone, gave them enough gas money to make it back to Ohio, and sent them home so they could drop the rabbit off at Mandy's grandmother's house before making another try at a later date.

Friday night I went to my family's house for our weekly dinner, and we had a donut party with Dunkin Donuts while watching Richard Attenborough's masterpiece, Gandhi, which was nominated for 11 Oscars and won eight, including Best Picture in 1983.

Saturday Polina, Katie and Afiya came over to finish our Firefly/Serenity marathon and have dinner with me. We made a salad with tomatoes, green olives, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, bell peppers and croutons, tossed with Italian dressing. I made spaghetti with a meat, mushroom, onion and fresh tomato sauce, and a simpler version of my stuffed mushrooms as a side dish. During the movie, we had tea and brownies for dessert. Afterwards, we dropped Afiya off at her home in Jersey City, while Katie and I spent the night with Polina in Staten Island.

Sunday morning we had breakfast with Polina's parents and grandmother, and the three of us took a walk around the neighborhood before the clouds opened up with rain. We waited until the rain stopped around 4 p.m., then dropped Katie at the ferry terminal so she could go home to Brooklyn. After dinner with her family, Polina and I talked, cuddled, listened to music and surfed the net until about midnight when I finally left for home. We found a new term for our relationship - amitiƩ amoureuse - which in French means "in-love friendship," and I found a cute poem describing it:

Une amitiƩ amoureuse
between my cat and me
while she sits on my lap and purrs
denotes a love that's free
of competition with the rest
of others whom we may desire,
for neither wishes to contest
the right that each has to aspire
to other lovers in liaisons,
though amoureuse our friendship knows
that every heart has got its raisons,
as every garden has its rose.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vampires galore

Just a quick post before things get hectic this week. Tomorrow I'm meeting my friend Simon to discuss a freelance assignment for his Vortex Healing practice, followed by my women's polyamory group meeting. On Wednesday Polina and I are attending the regular Polyamorous NYC meeting (where I won't be presenting), and Thursday we are taking Lori out for her birthday to see an off-Broadway production of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.

This week I neglected to mention that I've finally finished watching all five seasons of Joss Whedon's Angel - that means I have now seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, Whedon's enduring contribution to the television zeitgeist. Of course, I am also in the middle of a Firefly marathon that should conclude on Saturday, but I've already seen all those episodes once before.

I'm also reading Laurell K. Hamilton's latest Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novel, Skin Trade while at the same time shuttling the older Anita Blake novels to Penny for her to read. She has to get through Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin and Blood Noir before she can read the latest book, but at her reading pace that shouldn't take long at all.

Tara and I went out to the mall today and had a nice time walking around and shopping for various things. It's been a long time since we've had alone time together that was peaceful, although we did get into a spirited discussion over lunch about our philosophical differences in several areas. She's trying to be better about not wanting things out of her relationships that are not forthcoming, something I've encouraged her to do.

At Borders I bought Charlaine Harris' book Club Dead so I could continue the Sookie Stackhouse series once I'm done with Anita Blake. Unfortunately, it's only available in mass-market paperback, so that's only the second such book I've bought for my library since 2005 (I despise reading mass-market paperbacks and will always choose hardcovers or larger format paperbacks if available).

I also bought a DVD of the movie Sunshine, directed by recent Oscar-winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later). It's a very cerebral sci-fi movie that's less about action and more about humanity in space, and reflects Boyle's unique artistic vision. I'd heard good things about it, but haven't seen it until tonight, and it's an interesting film that I will probably have to see a couple more times before I can fully appreciate it.

Last Sunday I went to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for a walking tour with one of my lesbian meetup groups. I mostly got excited about seeing some cricket matches being played on pitches in the park areas. Here's a little video I shot of a bowler (the guy running and tossing the ball) and batsman scoring a couple of runs - as the fielder chases the ball, the two batsmen run back and forth between the wickets, scoring runs until the fielder returns the ball to the wicket keeper (the only fielder wearing gloves):

Cricket in Van Cortlandt Park

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Poly advice column

The job interview on Thursday was pretty much a waste of time. They were looking for someone at a lower level than me, and my big-agency experience seemed to work against me. So after that was done, I went downtown to visit Polina at her workplace and drop off an Anita Blake library book for her to read.

Then I came back uptown and met my friend Barbara (who participates in my women's poly group) at the West Side YMCA to play a couple games of racquetball. I haven't played in several years, but it came back to me pretty quickly, and it was a nice workout. I'm glad I didn't get hit with the ball because I sure remember how much that can sting.

The weather here has been dreary, humid and pretty downright miserable, and it caused Anika to cancel any plans we might have made for today, since her flight was hampered by weather. I was going to have a hike in Yonkers tomorrow with my lesbian group, but that might be cancelled as well. Plus, the rain is keeping Tara and I from playing tennis.

I have been thinking a lot about relationships since Tara and I have had a bit of a difficult week. We've both been busy with various things and haven't had a chance to talk face-to-face very much. I hope we will get some time to connect again soon - she and the other girls are coming over soon for Saturday night dinner at my place, so at least we'll see each other for the first time since last Sunday night when we went to see Angels & Demons together. Although we try to talk on the phone every day, I can't remember the last time we went so long without seeing each other.

I did want to share this advice column on that offers some good advice about non-monogamous relationships:

Ask Professor Foxy: Am I Nonmonogamous? What Does That Mean for My Relationship?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Firefly marathon

I spent a very nice 36 hours with Polina over the last couple of days, starting with our second Poly Cocktail Hour at China1 Restaurant Monday night. I was there early for an Open Love NY meeting at 6 p.m., which was very productive since only one person couldn't make it. Polina arrived around 8:30 p.m. wearing a blue tank top and blue eyeshadow in honor of the newly UN-declared World Oceans Day.

We did our usual meet-and-greet of people we've met previously and new faces in the crowd. I ran into a guy I dated last year that I haven't seen since October. Polina's ex-boyfriend Patrick also attended - we met each other last November when I took her out for her birthday ("Museum weekend" - November 10, 2008). Plus Diana's girlfriend Kerry (not spelled "Carrie", as previously reported) of pending MTV fame ("Birthdays, MTV and Polina" - May 6, 2009) made an appearance and chatted with me for a bit.

Since Polina and I were hosting a Firefly viewing party at my apartment the next day, we left together at 11:30 p.m. to catch the last train back to New Jersey. On the train we met a guy named Byron who is a comics artist, writer and reporter, and thought polyamory was "wicked," as in cool, not as in sinful. For some reason it seems to me that when Penny and I are together, even if we're not doing anything demonstrative, we seem to attract more attention than we do separately. I'm not sure why that is.

So Penny spent the night at my place for the first time, and only the second time we've shared a bed ("Cooking party" - January 24, 2009). We were much more comfortable with each other this time around, and fortunately she does not find my bed too soft to sleep on in comparison to her very firm, post-industrial bed. The downside was that my building superintendent chose that morning to knock on my door at nine o'clock in the morning to replace my air filters and change my smoke detector battery.

After a breakfast of eggs and turkey bacon (since she obviously doesn't eat pork) we went out to pick up Penny's friends Katie from the bus station, and Laura (whom I met at the aforementioned birthday last November) met up with us there. We took them back to the apartment and started them on the first episode of Firefly, which neither of them had seen before. About halfway through, Penny and I went to fetch Afiya from the bus station and returned before the episode was finished. We plowed through about five more episodes before taking a break for dinner - Penny and I made pan-fried vegetable dumplings, bok choy and onion with black bean garlic sauce, and a spicy chicken curry with potatoes over rice.

After dinner we got all the way to "Ariel" on Disc 3 of the 4-disc set before calling it quits. We took some pictures to document what we hope might turn into a recurring event, but I especially like this one I accidentally snapped of Penny when she was handing me the camera:

The accidental photo

After dropping Laura off in North Haledon, about 10 minutes from my place, we took Afiya and Katie back to Penny's house in Staten Island, where we all crashed for the night. Penny and Katie got up early to go into the city for various things, while I waited for Afiya to shower before dropping her off at the ferry terminal and heading home. We tentatively plan to complete the Firefly marathon on June 20, including a screening of the movie Serenity.

Tomorrow I have my first job interview in quite a long while, so I'd better get to bed. More news as it happens later.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Baby talk

I've been busily cleaning up the apartment in anticipation of having guests on Tuesday for a Firefly marathon I had mentioned a couple weeks ago. Polina and some of her friends are planning to come over and we'll see how many episodes we can watch. I'm hoping we can get through the entire season with a couple of Tuesday sessions so we can all watch Serenity together.

Last night I had dinner, poker and movie night at my family's house, and for the second week in a row, I finished last in cards. I guess my big win a few weeks ago is making me overconfident or something. I did teach everybody a new variation on draw poker, which I think I should call "NJ Transit" since we pass and receive cards like rail and bus tickets (we give new games New Jersey-themed names, i.e. Paterson is a seven-card stud game). For the movie we watched MirrorMask, a movie written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave McKean, in association with the Jim Henson Company. Also, Tara gave me a long-awaited new mix of songs called Music VII (Inquiry) in a beautifully designed package that I'm looking forward to hearing once the sun goes down.

Last Wednesday when I was on the train into the city, I had an interesting encounter. There was a baby girl sitting in the seat in front of me with her caretaker - she was less than a year old with beautiful golden hair and bright inquisitive eyes. She was pressing her head against the window looking out at the landscape rolling by, and she started looking at me from around and over the top of the seat.

She shyly reached out with her hand, and I responded by extending my index finger. She copied me, and we touched fingertips to each other. She found this very amusing, and we did it again and again, just barely touching the tips of our fingertips and smiling at each other. I thought it was wonderful saying hello in this way, through touch.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

New Moon rising

I ended up staying home on Friday instead of going into the city to see Storm & Jonathan's concert at the Sidewalk Cafe. It was raining heavily all day, and I just wasn't feeling up to it.

I finally got around to watching the MTV Movie Awards that I had recorded on my DVR last Sunday, and it was lots of fun - Andy Sandberg was hilarious. Twilight cleaned up, winning Best Movie, Best Female Performance, Best Breakout Male Performance, Best Fight and Best Kiss. Also, they premiered the first trailer for the sequel, New Moon, and it looks fantastic. I'm so looking forward to seeing it in November.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Birthdays, MOMA and The Moth

My June social calendar is starting out pretty much the same as May, and it's Pride month to boot, which means marching in the Manhattan parade on June 28. So here we go with more frequent blog updates on my fun-filled life in work exile.

Sunday night my family took me out to see Pixar's Up in digital 3-D, and it was everything we've come to expect from Pixar. Lots of fun, and a few weepy parts too. Plus another fun short film involving cute cloud people and storks.

Monday night I went into the city to have an early dinner with my friends Angel and Kyle at Cafetasia, a Thai bistro near Washington Square Park. Angel is an independent consultant for Brown Bag Party which is like throwing Tupperware parties, except they sell sex toys, lubricants and accessories.

Angel and Kyle

Afterward, I took the subway to Brooklyn to meet up with Anika for an evening of storytelling at an event called The Moth. It's a regular event where everyday people volunteer to take the stage and share a personal experience with the audience for five minutes. Judges rate the stories according to different criteria and the winners go on to later events with other winners to be immortalized on CDs and podcasts.

Tuesday I went to a couple of sporting goods stores to look for a new tennis racquet because I returned the last one ("Public speaking" - May 20, 2009) after trying it out and finding I didn't like it. The new one is a Head Ti.S10 which is a discontinued design that I'd used once when I borrowed a Ti.S6 from Pearl's dad years ago. In researching the racquet, I found out that this Ti series license was purchased from Head by Sports Authority so they could manufacture them for sale in their stores - they are "legal fakes" in a sense. I also found a discussion thread that compared this racquet favorably to my old Hammer 2.6.

In the evening Tara and I played on a half-size mini-court owned by our township and the racquet did indeed play very much like my old racquet, but better because it's lighter and easier to maneuver due to a more advanced titanium/graphite construction. I can't wait to get it out on a real court and see how it feels on ground strokes instead of just volleys.

Wednesday I met Polina and her friend Katie at the Manhattan side of the Staten Island Ferry to have an outing. I'd met Katie at Polina's New Year's Eve party, so it was the second time we've seen each other. We decided to visit MOMA, since there were so many cool exhibits I wanted to show them from my last visit with Tara ("MOMA visit" - May 21, 2009). We had our breakfast/lunch at my favorite bagel place, Ess-a-Bagel near my old office, and walked over to the museum at the rain started to fall. Thankfully, Katie brought a small umbrella which she and I shared, while Polina cavorted in the rain (since she doesn't care as much about getting wet since her hair is so short now, I suppose).

Surprisingly, I ran into Storm's companion Jonathan in one of the exhibits, who recognized me despite me not wearing my glasses. I met him at the MTV party a month ago ("Birthdays, MTV and Polina" - May 6, 2009), and we'll probably see each other again on Friday, when they are scheduled to perform at Sidewalk Cafe.

Polina looking at art
Katie and Polina

From the museum we took the subway down to Bluestockings, an alternative bookstore, fair trade cafe and activist center for some coffee. There I met another woman I recognized from the MTV party, the unnamed woman sitting between Tash and Sarah in the group of young polys. I went up and introduced myself and showed her the picture on my camera. I'm rather amazed that in a city as large and populated as New York, I ran into two random people in a single day that I met at that MTV party.

From Bluestockings we walked a couple blocks to Happy Ending Lounge where Kyle was having his 46th birthday celebration at Pleasure Salon, a monthly sex-positive schmooze party held there. I brought our friends Kyle, Buck, Simon and Lyndell out to meet Polina and Katie, since Polina hasn't seen them since before she left for Argentina. The party had a superhero theme and Kyle is in costume with a cape, in case you were wondering.

Our improptu sidewalk party

Me, Buck, Katie, Polina, Simon and Kyle

After the brief reunion, Polina took off to Battery Park City for a family event, Katie went home to Brooklyn and I joined my friends for Kyle's party for a couple hours before heading home.